Feb 162024

Sustainability News Winter 2024

Sustainability News Winter 2024

Hello everyone! I hope you’re well and enjoying the first signs of spring like I am. This is the third installment of my sustainability news round-up! Most of the news is horribly depressing these days, but I’ve tried to provide a balance of good and bad events and issues that we should be aware of. Here are my top picks for sustainability news for winter 2024.

Canada’s Oil Sands Unmonitored Polluting

It’s fairly common knowledge, at least for Canadians, that the oil (tar) sands in Alberta are a literal oil stain on our beautiful landscape and are wreaking havoc on the environment and nearby communities. In January, I came across a “silver lining” article in Nature — a new aircraft-based technique for monitoring carbon-based airborne pollutants from the oil sands has been developed. These pollutants haven’t been tracked before. Whilst the study showed that the pollution-causing gases from the oil sands are 20-64 times what has been reported by the industry, and least we now have the technology to more accurately monitor the emissions. Accurate data helps hold the industry more accountable for their pollution. The article notes that the industrial region causes around the same about of pollution as “the rest of Canada’s human-generated sources combined – including emissions from motor traffic and all other industries”.

Oil Sands
Fort McMurray, Canada

Britain behind EU on Environmental Protections

Not that I really want to dredge up Brexit, but one of my biggest concerns about leaving the EU was that we would no longer be accountable to European environmental legislation. We were assured that Britain would have it’s own robust environmental laws; however, as The Guardian reported in January, Britain is now falling behind the EU on almost every area of green legislation. Only last week, Labour announced that they were halving their £28bn green investment pledge. There is currently no government body tasked to track the divergence between EU environmental legislation and the UK’s.

As the story below shows, the EU have implemented some big environmental regulatory changes in recent years, such as banning certain pesticides. The UK is not following, and in some cases the regulations have been loosened. Our sewage spills in water ways is a a good example. My view is that we should be addressing this with our MPs and advocating for legislative monitoring.

EU bans greenwashing offsetting claims

My longtime readers will know how passionate I am about rooting out greenwashing! Good news from the EU then, where companies will be required to provide proof of claims that their products/services are “climate neutral”, “biodegradable”, or “eco”, among other terms. They’re also introducing a total ban on using carbon offsetting schemes to substantiate the claims. This means companies will need to used certification schemes in order to verify and advertise their claims, and this law will be enforced from 2026. I hope the UK will follow!

Hands Holding Nature

New Emperor Penguin Groups

Some more good news! Four new emperor penguin colonies have been identified in Antarctica. Keeping track of the breeding pairs and nesting sites is important for conservationists as the species is under threat due to climate change. The researchers say that finding these additional colonies has raised the overall population by a few thousand. They note that the birds are needing to be more dynamic and adaptable to their changing environment.

Penguins

In case you missed it: “Meat Rice”

And, in case you missed this news a few days ago, we will soon be able to eat meat rice! That’s right, scientists are trialing growing “beef rice” as a sustainable protein source. At the moment, I’m glad I’m vegetarian, but its good to see that we’re working on sustainable protein options!

I’ll be back again soon with more sustainability news. In the meantime, have a lovely spring and share this news with your family and friends.

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